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Luke Del Rio named Florida’s starting quarterback

The two-time transfer was the front-runner for months.

NCAA Football: Florida Spring Game Logan Bowles-USA TODAY Sports

Luke Del Rio will operate as Florida’s starting quarterback for the rest of fall camp and is expected to start in the Gators’ season opener against Massachusetts, Florida coach Jim McElwain announced in a statement Thursday.

"Luke is going to work as the starter the rest of camp and start in the season opener barring any unforeseen development,'' McElwain said. "Our other quarterbacks remain in the plans and are ready to move forward and help the Gators any way they can."

Del Rio was expected by most to beat out Purdue transfer Austin Appleby and true freshmen Feleipe Franks and Kyle Trask for the role for a variety of reasons, chief among them his comfort with Florida’s offense: Del Rio was the only one of the four QBs to practice with the Gators prior to the spring of 2016, and was mentioned approvingly in practice reports even while he was a walk-on and ineligible to play as a result of his transfer from Oregon State in 2015.

But Del Rio made a star turn in Florida’s spring game, throwing for 176 yards and two touchdowns while hitting on 10 of his 11 attempts — his lone incompletion a savvy throwaway that was a sight for sore eyes, after years of struggles by young and impetuous throwers at the position to do that simple thing well and often.

And while Appleby and Trask also acquitted themselves nicely in the spring game without having as many snaps with first-teamers as Del Rio got, there was never a reported or rumored push by a signal-caller behind Del Rio in the pecking order that suggested a shakeup was nigh or likely. Instead, Del Rio, the son of Oakland Raiders head coach Jack, was placed on scholarship, and positioned as no worse than the 1A to Appleby’s 1B.

When Del Rio starts for the Gators against the Minutemen, he will become the first Florida starting quarterback to have transferred into the school in at least three decades. Florida never had a transfer QB start a game under Steve Spurrier, Ron Zook, Urban Meyer, or Will Muschamp — though the Gators have had seven of their starting quarterbacks transfer to other schools since Brock Berlin did so.